Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Archbishop Nichols on Sex Education

Action: parents must demand to see the materials being used in their schools and act firmly to protect their children.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham, who is also the Chairman of the Catholic Education Service for the whole of England and Wales, made this comment recently in a speech to school governors (pdf):

While acknowledging the need for sex and relationship education, including the need for clear information, we have been welcoming the fact that part of the purpose of this review is to make sure that more emphasis is given to the relationship aspect of this education and to the emotional content of our sexuality.

But more importantly, and with absolute insistence, we have been making clear, as you must too, that in a Catholic school sex and relationship education will always be designed and delivered according to the teaching of the Church. This, and this alone, gives critical stability to what we do and to the coherence of the arguments we make.

This summarizes neatly the confusion and dissent which lies at the heart of the Catholic Bishops' policy on sex education. The government's demand for 'clear information', notably to pre-pubescent children, is something which Catholics cannot 'acknowledge' the 'need' for, and it makes no difference how much 'emphasis' is given to 'relationships': if you tell children all about sexual organs, sexual practices, and how they must 'respect' immoral, exploitative, and unnatural lifestyles, and furthermore force them to tell their class-mates about their own sexuality, it isn't going to help much when you add that sex has its place in God's plan, according to that odd institution the Catholic Church, only within marriage. They are going to be sexualised. Entitling his talk ''Catholic Schools Must Oppose Sexualisation of Children' is simply - and I'm sorry to say it - hypocrisy.

The teaching of the Church has been applied to this subject by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. They say

NO to class-room sex education: it must be one-to-one with a person the child trusts, in the child's own time: parents, unless they are incapable of doing this.

NO to explicit information about sex to pre-pubescent children: the period of sexual latency must be respected.

NO to 'respecting' immorality: the Church's teaching must be presented as the TRUTH.

See their document here.

Exactly how Nichols' approach works is shown by the sex ed. programme used in his own Archdiocese of Birmingham, and by many other dioceses, 'All That I Am'. It's conformity to the Government's insane and immoral policy of combating teenage pregnancy by sexually explicit teaching at ever younger ages is guaranteed by the support it has from the Government's notorious 'Teenage Pregnancy Unit'.

At 'Key Stage 2' (ages 7-11) they are to 'to celebrate the difference between boys and girls', 'to identify a wide range of feelings in themselves and others', 'to take responsibility and manage their feelings appropriately', 'Respect other people's viewpoints', 'Recognise their own self-worth and identify positive things about themselves'.

At 'Key Stage 3' (ages 11-14): 'to identify their own opinions based on their experience of relationships and marriage and explore the media portrayal of relationships and marriage', 'to appreciate that sexual intercourse is the deepest and most intimate sign of human love'

At 'Key Stage 4' (ages 14-16): 'to examine the characteristics, nature and intent of disposable and permanent lifestyles and behaviour, and to understand why people opt for certain life choices', 'to be able to understand homosexuality, examine why prejudice and discrimination is harmful and learn to respect all people'.

This is the classic values-free free-sex claptrap. The Catholic Education Service, remember, 'welcomes' the contraception and abortion providing 'Connexions' clinics in Catholic schools. Another sex ed. programme used in Catholic schools is 'Lifetracks', which is closely analysed by a teacher here and here.

Hat-tip to Catholic Mom of 10 (here, here and here), and to John Smeaton (here and here).

1 comment:

Jackie Parkes said...

Dear Jackie,
Sorry ANON again
Well done they have so clearly outlined problems that I had not been able to put my finger on or express so clearly about the 'All That I Am' and similar approaches.

The people involved in the personal education package for schools may have been well meaning and working to the limits of their personal formation. They have done us a service, in a way, in producing something which we can look at and say ' that is not Catholic formation'. Angeline and Alan have shown clarity in crystallising some of the main flaws in this approach.

I was recently given a book called 'Fascinating Womanhood'. This was not written by a Catholic, but it gives a fresh approach to femininity as created by God, shows how this can be lived and highlights the great dignity of woman and her relationship with men. It is a mindset so far removed from the idea that couples should ' make the choice not to sleep together before marriage', which I recently saw as a discussion point in an otherwise good Catholic marriage prepartion course. The reality is that one should always be entering 'freely and deliberately' into marriage. A physical commitment, open to children, has both responsibility and emotional concomitants which make a free and deliberate choice regarding marriage much more difficult. It is also unfair on the other half and any potential children; fathers also suffer in relationship breakdown. So it is not so much a choice as a duty not to sleep together before marriage.

When Christain and even Catholic teaching on these matters is so weakly presented, people will feel they are making balanced choices. However, the reality is that after the event, even those with half formed consciences, like the woman at the well, are aware that it was not right, even if their relationship with God is such that it would only ever surface in an emergency.

Familiaris Consortio paragraph 19 gives a clear description of marriage for those who want to refocus their minds on what marriage is intended to be.

God Bless,

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen